Landis rides himself into Tour annals

News & Results

07/20/2006| 0 comments
by David Cohen
Floyd Landis returns from the dead. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Floyd Landis returns from the dead. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Landis rides himself into Tour annals

Floyd Landis ? avec panache!

Floyd Landis ? avec panache!


After Landis reclaimed the yellow jersey at the end of stage 15, a French newspaper noted this development in a headline but added the demur, ?sans panache??without panache.


The dictionary definition of panache (in English) is ?a plume or bunch of feathers, esp. one on a helmet;?figuratively, swagger.?


At the end of today?s stage 17, from St. Jean de Maurienne to Mozine, 200.5 kms over five significant climbs, Landis soloed for more than 125kms to victory in what was surely one of the greatest individual performances in Tour history.


Incredibly, Landis rode himself back into contention ? nay, favourite?s status ? to wear yellow in
Paris
on Sunday. He was largely written off by most Tour commentators ?including this one?after his collapse towards the end of stage 16 yesterday.

 


He now lies third in the General Classification, a mere 12 seconds behind Carlos Sastre (CSC) and 30 seconds in arrears of the determined Oscar Periero (Caisse d?Epargne-I.B.), who remains in yellow going into stage 18 tomorrow.


As he crossed the finish line today, Landis punched the air and wore an expression of determination and ? yes ? anger. It said, ?So there! You thought I was down and out; think again!?


Landis wasn?t sporting a bunch of feathers in his helmet, but there was a touch of swagger, despite his usual modest, understated demeanour.


Interviewed just before he mounted the podium for his first Tour stage win, Landis made it abundantly clear that he was going for yellow in
Paris
.


?I came here to win the Tour?.? he said. ?I want to win this race, not a stage.?

 



On paper, Landis has to be the favourite for the overall GC. He is a dominant time-trialler and should be able to erase the margin between himself and Sastre and Pereiro. Andreas Kl?den (T-Mobile), in fourth at 2:29, can time trial but he has a significant margin to overcome. This applies even more so Davitamon-Lotto?s Cadel Evans (3:08) and Rabobank?s Denis Menchov (4:14).


Until yesterday, Landis appeared on his way to a Tour victory ? not an overwhelming one, and not one that future historians of the race would take much note of. He hadn?t won a stage, nor had he done anything that could remotely be described as extraordinary.


But yesterday Landis faced a crisis with implications for this race and perhaps his future in cycling. The American cracked with 18 kms to go in stage 16, and in his ensuing agony lost time with every pedal stroke. He ended up in 11th place in the GC, 8:08 behind Pereiro.

 


In the argot, he seemed cooked.


The American hegemony of the Tour appeared to be at an end, given that the other
U.S.
contender, Levi Leipheimer, despite some courageous riding, was not really in contention.


But today, Landis blasted to the front after 72 kms and didn?t look back.


Not wanting a repeat of Wednesday?s dramatic loss of power, Landis took extra care to keep himself hydrated today ? inside and out. He was

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